For the first time in a long time, things are looking up for the Miami Dolphins.
Bill Belichick-New England Patriots
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is a three-time National Football League Coach of the Year and he is in the running to once again win the award here in 2016. The deck was stacked against the Patriots to begin this NFL season as the result of quarterback Tom Brady being suspended by the league for the first four games.
But in typical Patriots fashion, they responded to adversity as only they could by going 3-1 without Brady. New England hasn’t had the services of tight end Rob Gronkowski that much as he has only appeared eight games this season, while he was placed on injured reserved last month. The Patriots also traded outside linebacker Jamie Collins last month and they haven’t skipped a beat.
With just one game remaining in the regular season, the Patriots are 13-2, and a victory this Sunday over the Miami Dolphins, or a loss by the Oakland Raiders will give New England home-field advantage in the AFC Playoffs.
Each of the last five National Football League seasons have seen the Patriots at least reach the AFC Championship Game, and as they’ve already secured a first-round bye, there is a good possibility to see them advance into late January.
In all but two of Belichick’s 17 seasons as the head coach of the Patriots, his team has won at least 10 games in the regular season. And as the Patriots could finish tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the best record in the National Football League, it is a tribute to the culture that Belichick has established in Foxborough.
Adam Gase-Miami Dolphins
For Adam Gase he has walked into a very difficult situation and made the impossible, possible. Prior to this year the Dolphins have only made the playoffs once since 2002, while they hadn’t had a winning season since 2008. But in one year under Gase, the Dolphins are heading to the postseason and in a very improbable fashion.
The Dolphins began the 2016 National Football League season with a record of 1-4 and it appeared to be another lost year in South Florida. But since then the Dolphins are 9-1 as Gase has changed the culture there along with the team’s overall philosophy.
When Gase became the head coach of the Dolphins, he decided to stick with Ryan Tannehill as his starting quarterback. Tannehill was the Dolphins first-round pick in 2012, but he has been up and down during his time with the team. Gase decided to reduce Tannehill’s work load as the Dolphins have rediscovered the running game.
Second year running back Jay Ajayi has become a force for the Dolphins as his 1,213 rushing yards in 2016 are the fourth most in a single-season by a Miami running back. Ajayi’s emergence coincided with the Dolphins resurgence as his 204 rushing yards in Miami’s 30-15 victory in Week 6 over the Pittsburgh Steelers got the ball rolling.
Ajayi has been able to produce behind a Dolphins offensive line that is without the services of a center Mike Pouncey who is a three-time Pro Bowler, but it has been the overall attitude of this unit as well as the commitment to the running game that has turned things around in South Florida.
Overall the Dolphins are ninth in the National Football League in rushing and that will be important in the postseason as they will be without the services of Tannehill who is out with a knee injury. But the Dolphins haven’t skipped a beat with backup quarterback Matt Moore who is 2-0 as a starter.
The Dolphins also possess a ferocious defensive line that features Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Cameron Wake who tend to have a weekly meeting a the quarterback.
And once you factor in Miami’s ability to run the football along with a stout defensive line, they should be a force next month in the playoffs.
Jack Del Rio-Oakland Raiders
A franchise turnaround begins with a culture change and this is very evident with the Oakland Raiders. Once upon a time that Raiders were the gold standard of success in the National Football League as they were revered. But since 2003, the Raiders became the laughing stock of the NFL as they have had the worst winning percentage in the league over that stretch without a playoff appearance, or a winning campaign. But things have changed on the watch of head coach Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio in his second season as the head coach of the Raiders, and under him the team has returned to glory. The Raiders record of 12-3 this season is the second best in the AFC, while it is their best mark since they went 12-4 in 2000.
Del Rio has changed the culture in Oakland which wasn’t an easy task and in the process he has woken a sleeping giant in the National Football League. But Del Rio’s biggest task is still ahead of him as the Raiders will enter the postseason without the services of Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr suffered a fractured fibula this past Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts which really put a damper on the Raiders postseason chances. Carr was in the running to be the National Football League’s MVP and now the Raiders will go into the postseason relying on backup quarterback Matt McGloin to get the job done. And if Del Rio and the Raiders find a way to advance in the postseason with McGloin under center, it will arguably be one of the best coaching jobs ever done in the history of the league.
Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys
After the Dallas Cowboys went 4-12 in 2015, they were expected to be an improved team here in 2016, but nobody expected what they have become. Through 15 games in 2016, the Cowboys are 13-2 which is tied with the New England Patriots for the best mark in the National Football League and they’ve already sewn up home-field advantage in the NFC.
But things looked bleak for the Cowboys in August when starting quarterback Tony Romo was sidelined with a back injury. And that meant that the Cowboys would go with an unproven rookie at quarterback in Dak Prescott.
Prescott has more than overachieved this season as he is completing 68.1% of his passes, while he has thrown 23 touchdown passes to just 4 interceptions. And typically a season like this would see Prescott as a shoo-in to be the National Football League’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he has some very stiff competition from his teammate in running back Ezekiel Elliot.
Whereas much wasn’t expected from Prescott who was selected in the fourth round of the National Football League Draft by the Cowboys, the same cannot be said for Elliot. Elliot was the fourth overall selection of the draft as he was expected to ignite the running game for the Cowboys which is what he has done. Elliot is leading the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards, and he has brought excitement back to that position in Dallas which has not been seen in Dallas since the days of Emmitt Smith.
Prescott and Elliot have benefited from playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the National Football League, while Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has kept the game plan simple, but effective for his rookie quarterback.
And if Dallas continues on the pace that they are currently on, they could be in line for their first Super Bowl Championship since 1995.
Ben McAdoo-New York Giants
Ben McAdoo spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants and he found himself being promoted to being the team’s head coach last January. McAdoo’s task was to get things turned around for a Giants franchise that had not reached the postseason since winning the Super Bowl in 2011.
Under McAdoo, the Giants began the season 2-0 for the first time since 2009 and their 10-5 mark has seen them qualify for the postseason. McAdoo’s Giants are the only team to defeat the Dallas Cowboys this season as they’ve done it twice. But it has been the Giants defense that has kept them going this season as they are 11th in the NFL in total defense, but third in points allowed at 18.3 per contest. McAdoo’s specialty is supposed to be offensive football, but New York has been stuck in the mud as they are 24th in the National Football League. However being that the Giants have improved after going just 6-10 in each of the last two seasons has to put McAdoo in the mix as far as being the NFL’s Coach of the Year.
For young football fans that follow the Miami Dolphins, they might not know of the organization’s storied history. From 1970-2003, the Dolphins only had two losing seasons, while they would win a pair of Super Bowl Championships in five appearances. But since 2004, the Dolphins only have one playoff appearance while they’ve only produced two winning seasons over this stretch. The Dolphins were looking to reverse their fortunes in 2012 when they used a first-round pick on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. From Tannehill’s first day in Miami he has been the team’s starting quarterback, but he won’t ever be confused as being the next coming of Dan Marino.
In 68 starts for the Dolphins, Tannehill has thrown 93 touchdown passes to 59 interceptions. Each of the last two National Football League seasons have seen Tannehill pass for more than 4,000 yards, but the most important stat that a quarterback is judged by is the win-loss column where he is 30-38. And as the Dolphins have begun this NFL season with a record of 1-3, should the honeymoon between the Dolphins and Tannehill be coming to an end?
Adam Gase is in his first year as the Dolphins head coach and because of that he isn’t attached at the hip with the majority of Miami’s current roster, including Tannehill. Last year Tannehill did receive a $96 million extension with $45 million in guaranteed money that could keep him in Miami through 2020. However as Tannehill is set to earn nearly $18 million next season, it is decision time for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins are no closer to being a playoff contender now with Tannehill than the day that he was drafted which makes you wonder why they would be willing to attach so much money to him.
This season Tannehill has passed for 1,081 with 6 touchdowns and 5 picks, while has has already committed 4 fumbles. With the Dolphins in a 24-24 tie late in their Week 3 contest against the Cleveland Browns, Tannehill had a chance to lead Miami into scoring range, but he was sacked by outside linebacker Corey Lemoiner who also forced a fumble. Lemoiner would recover the Tannehill fumble which put the Browns in position to win the game. But kicker Cody Parkey would miss a 46-yard field goal as time expired that would have sent Miami and Tannehill to an 0-3 start.
Tannehill would get a reprieve in overtime as on Miami’s second possession of the extra quarter, running back Jay Ajayi would end the game on an 11-yard touchdown run.
This past Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tannehill and the Dolphins offense were held in check. The Bengals would limit the Dolphins to just 222 yards of total offense, while Tannehill was 15-of-25 passing for 189 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. The Dolphins were a paltry 2-for-11 on third down conversions, while Tannehill was also sacked 5 times and things won’t be getting any better for Miami anytime soon.
Surprisingly the New England Patriots have taken control of the AFC East even without the services of quarterback Tom Brady who is currently serving a four-game suspension. And with Brady set to return this week, you can all but pencil in the Patriots for another AFC East Title, which leaves the other teams in the division such as the Dolphins to vie for one of two playoff berths in the conference. But with the slow start by the Dolphins, you can’t be that optimistic about their postseason chances which lines up to be another long National Football League season in South Florida.
What defines quarterbacks in the National Football League is what they are able to do late in games that will make them legends. In more than four years with the Dolphins, Tannehill has yet to have a moment such as that which simply makes him another guy. And as Tannehill has consistently illustrated that he is not the guy, it’s time for the Dolphins to move on from him in order to once again start over at the most important position on the field.
As you can pretty much put a lid on the playoff chances, they can be put in the same category with the Browns who I wrote about last month as Miami is simply three years away from being three years away.
Sources: Spotrac.com, Pro-football-reference.com
X-New England Patriots 12-4
There are two opinions on the New England Patriots as they are an organization that you either love or hate. Since 2001, the Patriots have not had a losing season and they’ve only had two seasons over that stretch which have ended without them making the postseason. The Pats have won four Super Bowl Championships as they’ve become the epitome of success in the National Football League. But life isn’t a bed of roses for New England as they’ve dealt with their fair share of controversy which included “Spygate” in 2007, and now “Deflategate”. The most recent controversy has seen NFL commissioner Roger Goodell drop the hammer on the Patriots which included a $1 million fine, a loss of draft picks, and a four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady. Now as the Patriots are preparing four life without Brady for the first four games here in 2016, head coach Bill Belichick will once again put on his thinking cap.
Patriots fans need to get used to hearing the name Jimmy Garoppolo as he will be the Patriots starting quarterback while Brady serves his suspension. In Garoppolo’s two years with the Patriots, he has seen some brief mop up duty behind Brady. But now Garoppolo will be charged with keeping Brady’s seat warm until he comes back.
There are still plenty of explosive play makers on the Patriots offense that features the likes of tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman. At 6’6″, Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses as his height and pass catching ability keeps opposing secondaries honest. And it will be much tougher for Patriots opponents to double Gronkowski this season due to the fact that the team acquired tight end Martellus Bennett from the Chicago Bears.
Bennett has spent eight years in the National Football League with stints with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and the Bears. The majority of Bennett’s career has seen him underutilized in the passing game which could change this year. I expect the Patriots to employ more two tight end packages in the mode of the early 2010’s when New England would create matchup problems for opponents with Gronkowski and former tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Edelman is looking to bounce back after injuries slowed him down in 2015. And once the maestro at quarterback in Brady returns from his suspension the Patriots passing game should really take flight.
Last year the Pats were 30th in the National Football League in rushing and they are one of the few teams that can get away with that due to the ability of Brady. Under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Patriots tend to use screen passes, along with short passes to their running backs such as Dion Lewis and James White which turn out to be de facto runs.
The Patriots have a solid offensive line and if left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer are able to remain healthy, both Garoppolo and Brady should enjoy plenty of time in the pocket. It never worked out for guard Jonathan Cooper in three years with the Arizona Cardinals, but after the Patriots acquired him during the off-season, maybe a change of scenery is just what he needs after being a first-round pick in 2013.
It was shocking when Belichick decided to trade defensive end/outside linebacker Chandler Jones to the Cardinals this off-season, but he did pick up a veteran to replace him in defensive end Chris Long. Long was the second overall pick of the 2008 National Football League Draft by the St. Louis Rams, but injuries have taken away from his effectiveness over the last two years as he has missed 14 games. However Long finally gets the chance to play for a winner and suiting up for the Patriots typically tends to allow veteran players to find the fountain of youth.
Aside from Long on the Patriots defensive line, there are a ton of veterans that includes defensive tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton and defensive end Rob Ninkovich, while second year defensive tackle Malcolm Brown could be ready to take on bigger role in New England’s defense.
The Pats still have a strong group of linebackers which includes middle linebacker Donta Hightower and outside linebacker Jamie Collins, while the secondary is home to some quality veterans in cornerback Malcolm Butler, strong safety Patrick Chung, and free safety Devin McCourty.
If the Patriots are able to weather the storm without Brady, this team should once again be poised to make another run at winning the Super Bowl.
New York Jets 10-6
2015 saw much improvement for the New York Jets, but they fell just short of making the playoffs. After the Jets defeated their arch rival in the New England Patriots in Week 16, they only needed a victory over the Buffalo Bills in Week 17 to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2010. However things fell apart for the Jets as they lost to the Bills which was a bittersweet ending to what had the makings of a storybook season. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick fell 95 yards short of becoming the first Jets quarterback since Joe Namath in 1967 when the team still played in the American Football League to pass for 4,000 yards in a season. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker become the first duo of Jets pass catchers since Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet in 1998 to each gain 1,000 yards receiving and New York also had one of the fiercest defensive lines in the National Football League that featured defensive ends Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams. And as all of this should be building blocks for the Jets heading into the 2016 NFL season, this team has a laundry list of question marks that are surrounding them.
After Fitzpatrick’s strong season he became a free agent as he and the Jets had a long dance around the floor before they came to an agreement on a new one-year deal for $12 million. Fitzpatrick has been a journeyman as he has suited up for six different clubs in his 11-year National Football League career. Many folks see Fitzpatrick as a backup quarterback which is one of the reasons why the Jets are not willing to commit on a long-term deal to a 33-year old player that has only made all 16 starts in a season three times in his career. Heading into the 2016 NFL season, the main thing for Fitzpatrick is to do exactly what he did last year which is to simply get the football to the play makers around him such as Marshall and Decker.
After running back Chris Ivory gained 1,070 yards on the ground for the Jets last year, he was allowed to leave in free agency as he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But as one door closed for the Jets, another opened as the team signed veteran running back Matt Forte. In eight years with the Chicago Bears, Forte was a very durable running back as only Walter Payton gained more yards on the ground than him while wearing a Bears uniform.
Forte has also been solid in providing pass protection for quarterbacks, while also being a strong receiver coming out of the backfield which should pay dividends in the Jets offense.
After 11 years of protecting the blindside for Jet quarterbacks, offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson decided to retire. But Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan didn’t waste any time in replacing Ferguson as he acquired offensive tackle Ryan Clady from the Denver Broncos. Ferguson was extremely durable during his career, but the same cannot be said about Clady who after helping the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl last year must show his worth on the big stage in the shadow of New York City.
As previously mentioned the Jets do have a strong defensive line which sets the tone for the rest of the defense. And if Wilkerson, Richardson, and Williams are able to consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, it could make life much easier for players such as cornerback Darrelle Revis.
For Jets head coach Todd Bowles, he knows that his team won’t be able to sneak up anybody here in 2016. And with road games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers,and Arizona Cardinals, along with divisional tilts against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, the Jets are going to have their hands full in they intend on making it to the postseason.
Buffalo Bills 8-8
The Buffalo Bills and head coach Rex Ryan are a match made in heaven. The Bills have not won more than 9 games in a season during this millennium, and Ryan is a head coach that tends to hover around .500 each year. Staying true to form for Ryan and the Bills in 2015, Buffalo went 8-8 as they were a team that competed, but they were an undisciplined team that simply found ways to lose. Ryan has always been known as a player’s coach with teams that shoot themselves in the foot, and we could be looking at the same blueprint for the Bills here in 2016.
Last year Ryan gave Tyrod Taylor the opportunity to be the Bills starting quarterback and he made the most of it by throwing 20 touchdown passes to just 6 interceptions. Taylor began to shed the label of him simply being a scrambler and now it will be interesting to see if he can take the next step and become an elite quarterback in 2016. But if Taylor is going to be able to take the next step as a quarterback, he has the players around him to make it happen.
It hasn’t taken wide receiver Sammy Watkins that long to show that he indeed is a play maker. In just two years, Watkins has displayed the rare combination of blazing speed and pass catching ability which makes him a logical candidate to make the Pro Bowl this season. And if the Bills passing game is going to improve, wide receiver Robert Woods must become consistent as well.
The Bills were the top rushing team last year in the National Football League, and this was without the benefit of having a healthy LeSean McCoy at running back for the entire season. But if McCoy is able to remain healthy and show the explosiveness that made him the Philadelphia Eagles all-time leading rusher, then the Bills offense should be a force to be reckoned with.
Ryan is known as an aggressive defensive coach, but the Bills only managed to muster up 21 sacks last year after having 54 in 2014. The defense could once again be a point of frustration for the Bills due to suspensions of players such as defensive tackle Marcel Dareus which could rob them off a chance to improve and that’ll more than likely hamper their chances of ending the longest current playoff drought in the National Football League.
Suspensions to players such as Dareus’ show that the Bills are still a very undisciplined team. Last year the Bills had 143 accepted penalties against them which was tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for tops in the National Football League, and if Ryan doesn’t get this pattern tempered, Buffalo will once again be stuck in the mud.
More than likely the Bills will be an up and down team again in 2016, and you have to wonder if anything short than a trip to the postseason will mean the end for Ryan in Western New York.
Miami Dolphins 5-11
From 1970-1995, the Miami Dolphins only employed one head coach in Don Shula. But since Shula’s retirement, the Dolphins have had a revolving door at head coach. Adam Gase is set to begin his first season as Dolphins head coach, and he represents the tenth different head coach that the Dolphins have employed since Shula stepped down. The Dolphins coaching carousel is reflective in the team’s record as they have not had a winning record since 2008, while failing to win a playoff game since 2000.
Aside from head coaching issues, the quarterback position has also been a problem for the Dolphins. As Ryan Tannehill is set to begin his fifth year as the Dolphins starting quarterback, it marks the first time since the early 2000’s that Miami will have the same starting quarterback five years in a row.
In four years as the Dolphins starting quarterback, Tannehill has put up impressive numbers which would make a fantasy football owner happy, but he has come up short in the most important category that defines a National Football League quarterback which is victories. Tannehill has a career record of 29-35 and the Dolphins have never finished a season with a winning record with him under center. In May 2015, Tannehill and the Dolphins agreed on a six-year, $96 million extension, and if he’s unable to begin to deliver, the folks in South Florida that follow this team will begin to want another franchise quarterback.
In 2015, the Fins struggled to run the football as they were 23rd in the National Football League in rushing. The Dolphins leading returning rusher is Jay Ajayi who gained just 187 yards on the ground last season. The Dolphins did sign former Houston Texans running back Arian Foster. But Foster has a ton of miles on his legs along with injuries, and it is difficult to expect him to be the play maker that he was a few seasons ago.
The Dolphins lack of a running game will put more pressure on Tannehill and wide receiver Jarvis Landry to carry the offense, and although that the duo will pad their stats, it more than likely won’t lead to that many wins in Miami.
Defensively the Dolphins lost defensive end Olivier Vernon in free agency as he signed with the New York Giants. But Miami is hopeful that veteran defensive end Mario Williams will be able to fill the void. Williams will join a veteran defensive line that includes defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Cameron Wake, but there are plenty of issues in the back seven of the Dolphins defense that will stress the mental of first-year defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
It’s going to be another long year in Miami, but I expect Gase to use this time to assess the talent there as he is hopeful to build a solid foundation.
New England Patriots
First Round Pick: None
Best Pick: Round Six-Elandon Roberts-Inside Linebacker-Houston
The New England Patriots entered the 2016 National Football League with a deck that was stacked against them. The Patriots lost their first-round selection after Deflategate which changed their draft strategy. 59 picks went by before the Patriots got started and they would use their first selection on Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Cyrus Jones. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves versatile players, and what Jones provides New England with is an athlete that can return kicks while also being able to contribute defensively in nickel packages.
Surprisingly in the third round, the Pats would select North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had an up and down collegiate career which saw spend his first two years of eligibility with the Florida Gators before transferring to N.C. State. At 6’4″, 231 lbs., Brissett has great size to be a quarterback in the National Football League, but he is a project at best while he more than likely he would have been available much later in the draft for the Pats.
But in the sixth round, Belichick found his kind of player when he pegged Houston Cougars middle linebacker Elandon Roberts. In 2015, Roberts was a member of the American Athletic Conference’s All-Defensive first team as he tallied 142 tackles. Roberts is a very smart football player and Belichick will definitely find a roster spot for him.
New York Jets
First Round Pick: Darron Lee-Outside Linebacker-Ohio State
Best Pick: Round Two-Christian Hackenburg-Quarterback-Penn State
After being on the cusp making the National Football League Playoffs in 2015, the New York Jets don’t want to take a step back this year. The Jets entered the National Football League Draft last month appearing to be at an impasse as they and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are still far apart on contract negotiations. In the first round of the draft, the Jets had the opportunity to select Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch which would have signaled the end of Fitzpatrick’s time with the team. Instead the Jets opted for Ohio State Buckeyes outside linebacker Darron Lee. At 6’1″, 238 lbs., Lee is undersized to be an outside linebacker in the Jets 3-4 defensive scheme which makes you wonder if a move to safety for him could be in the works.
The second round did see the Jets dip into the quarterback pool when they tabbed Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenburg. A few months ago Hackenburg appeared to be a top-five pick until his 2015 college football season unraveled for him. Hackenburg didn’t have the best season at Penn State due to a coaching change along with the fact that the Nittany Lions didn’t have a talented team around him due to NCAA sanctions. But coming out of high school, Hackenburg was a highly touted prospect who could flourish in a pro-style offense. At 6’4″, 228 lbs., Hackenburg has the size and arm strength to flourish in the National Football League; now it’s just a matter of him getting familiar with the Jets playbook. In Florham Park, Hackenburg will be under the tutelage of Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey who has a history of developing quarterbacks in the NFL.
First Round Pick: Shaq Lawson-Defensive End-Outside Linebacker-Clemson
Best Pick: Round Two-Reggie Ragland-Inside Linebacker-Alabama
After the Buffalo Bills finished the 2015 National Football League season ranked 19th in total defense while only amassing 21 team sacks, you knew that Rex Ryan wanted to remedy that as defensive football is his specialty. At the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bills began by owning the 19th overall pick of the draft. And in typical Ryan fashion, he took a chance on a defensive player that was slipping in the draft.
In the first round the Bills would select Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson. Last year Lawson was on the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first-team All-Defense after totaling 12.5 sacks. Lawson gutted out the season with a shoulder injury which will eventually require surgery, but the Bills are hopeful that he’ll have enough to give them a solid impact this year.
In the second round the Bills got themselves a value pick in Alabama Crimson Tide middle linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland was talented enough to be a first-round pick, but he fell to the second round where the Bills decided to make a deal with the Chicago Bears in order to secure the 41st overall selection which they used on him. At 6’1″, 247 lbs., Ragland is a football player’s football player. And on top of that, Ragland is a leader which is exactly what the Bills need on defense.
The Bills continued to stockpile talent as they selected Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Adolphus Washington in the third round, while they picked his college teammate in quarterback Cardale Jones in the fourth round.
Jones is an anomaly as he had the potential to have been a first-round pick last year had he decided to leave school early even though he only made three starts in college. But when Jones decided to return to school, he found that his draft stock dropped. Jones is 6’5″, 253 lbs., and he is extremely athletic, but the best way to describe him is that he still “raw”. However if there is a coach that can motivate Jones to practice each day with a chip on his shoulder, it is Ryan.
In the fifth round, the Bills selected Arkansas Razorbacks running back Jonathan Williams in what I deem as a low risk, high reward move. In 2014, Williams led the Razorbacks in rushing with 1,190 yards, but a foot injury put him on the shelf for the entire 2015 college football season. However after carrying the football 211 times in 2014, Williams should be fresh which will be a welcome sight as he could take some carries away from Bills running back LeSean McCoy who is recovering from a knee injury.
First Round Pick: Laremy Tunsil-Offensive Tackle-Ole Miss
Best Pick: Round Three-Kenyon Drake-Running Back-Alabama
Since 2004, the Miami Dolphins have only have had one winning season, and a big reason for that is their struggles in the National Football League Draft. The Dolphins have consistently failed to find impact players early on the NFL Draft which is also a solid implication as to why they only have one postseason appearance over that stretch, and they’re still searching for their first playoff victory since 1999.
Originally, the Dolphins entered the 2016 National Football League Draft in possession of the eighth overall selection. But prior to the draft, the Dolphins would engage in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that would see Miami receive the 13th overall selection. The Dolphins did receive offers for the choice, but instead they opted to select Mississippi Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Dark clouds hung over Tunsil’s head at the draft after a questionable photo of him surfaced on Twitter on April 28th. And as some people had Tunsil pegged as the best prospect entering the draft, he found himself falling. There’s no question that Tunsil has the talent to become an impact player for the Dolphins; it’s just a matter of whether or not that his head will be screwed on properly. And unfortunately, I don’t see any leadership within the Dolphins locker room that is going to hold Tunsil accountable.
Aside from selecting Tunsil, the rest of the Dolphins time at the 2016 National Football League Draft was sketchy at best as they didn’t find enough impact players that are going to help them end their playoff drought in 2016, or build a solid core of players for the future.
Sources: Pro-football-reference, Cfbstats.com